Posts Tagged ‘hand stitch’

From Idea to Form

Monday, February 17th, 2014


On how I transform something from an idea into some form, this pic says much.   I have always thought any ‘line’ can be a cut, a seam or a line of stitches.   So using a pic I’ve taken of some pattern,  and using some form of my very, very basic, tech tools –  in  this case PE11  (Photoshop Elements 11) – I will choose to resize, manipulate, re-draw, change colours, whatever .  Those photo-editing programs are wonderful, but as I say I just go ‘basic’, more or less one or two steps up from the lead pencil and simple diagrams+lists  I’ve always done.  Here I have collaged a sample with part of a sand pattern photo on which I drew with PE11 to show how my brain takes an image to a form via fabric and thread.

I was recently asked where my ideas come from.  All over the place ! is my  answer.   Right now ‘holes’ and ‘lace – widest interpretation of’ are on my mind as I am focus less on The Quilt itself, and more on wherever exploration takes me with mixed media and stitch.  Since the late ’70’s the wheel has turned a full circle, I think.

Sandlace – First Samples

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

sandlace sample 1

Well, although I could go on for a long time in PSE, drawing lines on photos of sand ripples to explore the idea of holes making a lace pattern based on the brights and darks, once I began to think of it as ‘sandlace’,  it seemed time to pick up needle and thread and start working with the idea !!

My first sample, the grey and cream in the upper right corner, below, was of the cream, bonded on one side, holes cut out and the edge shaped, then ironed on to the grey background.  Although I did a little stitching, and I liked it, it also seemed too flat, too ‘neat and careful’, I felt.

sandlace 5_samples

The grey and brown on the left is also heat bonded, and really, the small cut-outs feel too small to do much about – so I am just leaving that as is.  Which is what making samples is all about – its certainly not about finishing anything off, unless you specially want to, of course.

The third sample I did was cream, sewn to grey and then cut out after the orange stitches, which worked well – can you tell I’m keen on the florescent thread?  And, the dark grey stitching is actually attaching the whole thing to one of those painted stretched canvases I have around, its 20cm sq. – and I have several 30cm sq, so I will mount them as I do them, because that worked well, too.  On larger pieces there will be room for several French knots or other textural stitches if I want them.




The Glorious Straight Stitch 4

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

hand quilting new ideas 1 blog

Of course, the straight stitch in running mode through layers = quilting stitch.

Detail of a new piece with the working title of “Mostly About Red”.  Green is my favourite colour though, and the next one is ‘mostly’ about greens despite the large amount of black background  :-p     The quilting thread is  a flourescent topstitching thread in one of the intense flourescent colours now available along with fabric and paint here in Uruguay.   Such things are probably nothing new in the USA, but here they are, relatively speaking – partly because the government has brought in laws requiring motorcyclists to  wear a floursecent vest for heightened visibility.  (They had to try something, as the accident rate is positively alarming)  Mostly people are wearing the proscribed vests, which are also now widely used by all kinds of workers  on or near roads and construction sites.  But I have seen these vests tied to back packs, and wrapped around an occy strap holding a load onto the back…. slightly visible from the back perhaps, but not from the front.  And now after several months in traffic the intense colour of some of them has been toned down by emission particles built up all over them – some need a good wash.  Perhaps floursecent helmets will be next ?


The Glorious Straight Stitch 3

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Last year, fibre artist  Kathy Loomis  blogged daily on a hand stitched square, which I failed to register while the project was going, but today I lobbed in to her blog, and found lots of little pictures featuring chain and coral stitches, French knots, fly stitches, and several others used regularly through her samples.  I commented on how my fav. is the Straight Stitch plus any stitch variation which you can do with a ‘stem’ – so stemmed French knots, stemmed fly-stitch,  etc, which in turn reminded her of these very expressive variations, plus another I’d forgotten about till just now – the Cretan stitch, seen in this detail of “Out Back of Bourke” 1987, full pic in pre-1988 gallery on this website.   For all those stitches, and probably more I’ve forgotten, you can make those legs reeeeally long.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Back in 1977 I had a fabulously inspiring creative embroidery class in Darwin, NT Australia, with a woman I can’t find anywhere on the web, Laurel Fraser Allen.  She opened my eyes so wide I couldn’t sleep the night after my first class.  Through her I realized the potential of hand stitchery,  which was so much wider than my own mother’s smocking and counted thread works on linen.  I found Jacqueline Enthoven’s “The Stitches of Creative Embroidery” and studied it but, looking back it wasn’t very ‘creative’, more a stitch dictionary and paper precursor to the diagrammed stuff you see on the internet today by people who style themselves ’embroidery artists’, but really aren’t.  It was very stimulating, though.  In the next few years I bought several books that have stayed with me even if they aren’t  actually here in Montevideo but languish on my bookshelves back in Perth , Australia.  One is Nik Krevitsky’s  “Stitchery, Art and Craft”

Nik Krevistsky  Art and Craft  about which I can find nothing much where you would expect to find info, but let me tell you, it is a fabulously inspiring book that I treasure – lots of straight stich embroideries and woven textures, and I’ll have a read next time I go back.  Between 1977- c.1985  I attended several summer school type courses with prominent Australian embroiderers who taught the English ways of ‘design it yourself’ embroidery on subjects that mean something to you personally – so, I haven’t embroidered anything from a kit and very little from any patterns, instructions, samplers since I was a kid learning how to embroidery a traced linen table doily… which I still have, the crudely crocheted edge and all.  I’ll blog it sometime.    These days I let my needle wander, or ‘draw’ for me.

Looking around for  “contemporary embroidery artists”, I struck gold, there’s a lot there, and I came across two names new to me, whose websites really caught my attention: Kathy Halper whose embroidered drawings in mostly straight stitches explore the world of teens and the social media in which they operate and communicate – quite marvelous, and plenty more images when you search her name.  Then I found Melissa Zexter who embroiders over photographs of portraits and landscapes with various stitches mostly straight, some arranged into meshes and motifs that seem like an interpretive curtain over at least part of the image if not all – heaps more of wonderful images if you search her name.




The Glorious Straight Stitch

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Sunburnt Textures Emb

Shown above is the title piece from my 1987 solo exhibition, ” Sunburnt Textures”,  and the detail is below.  Long before I started making quilts in 1989 I was using my favourite stitch, straight stitch in various forms in my fabric and thread art.  Other favourites include stemmed French knots, and stemmed Y-stitch.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Other examples are in the first gallery on my website, The Creative Stitch; pre-1988


Of course it is the running stitch that usually forms quilted textures but many other stitches can be used in lines or scattered/single form to function as quilting, although few contemporary quilt makers thoroughly explore these options.    I am currently doing some more explorations with the straight stitch:

straight stitch samples 1

I did have hope that this construction of the silver mylar between a metallic fabric and sheer nylon would somehow lie flatter with added stitchery – sadly it won’t, but that aside, there’s some exciting stuff stored in this little sample.  If I layered it with backing and batting it probably would then be flat, but I don’t want to do that so will have to  try something more, which might take a while to come to me.

Unusually for me, right now I have a piece in mind that already has a title, more or less, something like “Mostly about Red”  I am planning to use more of that shiny black chintz as the base,  bond mostly red shapes onto it, and straight stitching over the shapes like this.  I have some lovely florescent/neon threads that will really sing – like green which is of course opposite red on the colour wheel:

Sample - straight stitch over flat shapes


auditioning for red

Finally,  the red scraps and several uncut pieces  of red that made it through the auditioning process for the ‘red’ work.

From every pieced project, which I cut and sew freehand, ie template free, I save the offcuts  and segments of pieced fabrics in the large clear plastic bag you see on the chair behind the table.  The way I work, using many small pieces, I can often find great small pieces in the bag and use them – not because I’m miserly, there’s only a small amount of Scots blood in my veins – but it just makes sense to check out what I have in small bits first before cutting into the larger pieces, and there’s the thrill of a treasure hunt going through that digging deep process.


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